Al-Ahram Weekly Online   6 -12 May 2004
Issue No. 689
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Naguib Mahfouz

Moulid memories

By Naguib Mahfouz

The moulid, or birthday, of the Prophet Mohamed has passed just like any other day. I remember the time when such occasions were much anticipated, when people would mill around, visiting and exchanging wishes, turning the day into one of endless jubilation. What has happened? We still take the day off, and the head of state still addresses the nation. But people don't celebrate the occasion the way they used to. I remember when children would wait impatiently for their sugar doll or horse, trademark gifts on the day, or for the new outfit of clothes they would wear for the festivities.

In Abbaseyia, we had an empty plot of land that would be transformed, magically, into a fairground. Pavilions were set up and ministries sponsored folklore shows. Singers would sing ballads in praise of the prophet. Circles of religious incantations would form around the plot, which we referred to the moulid grounds. For the rest of the year, we used to play football on it.

These pavilions were quite famous for the quality of concerts held in them. I once listened to Mohamed Abdel- Wahhab singing alongside a Sufi group there. He sang a religious song and followed that with his hit, "I love to see you everyday."

Based on an interview by Mohamed Salmawy.

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